tv Studio 1.0 Bloomberg October 18, 2014 2:30pm-3:01pm EDT
>> he invented the self driving car, is considered the godfather of artificial intelligence. he cofounded google x, broadband balloons to connect to the internet through the stratosphere. now, sebastian thrun is onto his greatest ambition yet, democratizing education, by sharing knowledge with people that can't afford it. joining me on "studio 1.0," inventor, professor, founder, sebastian thrun. i thought we could start our interview wearing google glass
because you have been a big part of it. how often do you wear these? >> mostly outdoors, out and about. with my kids. >> what is the most surprising thing you have done wearing google glass? >> you know, i had this ambition to make a device that you can wear all day. in every situation. for me, it is awkward in a personal conversation. this is something that excites me much more when i'm out and about. >> there is a stigma against wearing google glass. there is a word for it called glass hole. >> i think it is a new technology, and i remember there used to be a time when you took a phone call, they would ask you out. because it was such an alien technology.
people need to get used to it. >> will we be wearing something like this in the future? >> i think something like this will be in the future. because if you look at computing as a whole, this is so immediate. you take pictures from your own perspective, it is the closest you come short of having surgery of the human brain and implanting it in the human brain. >> do you think it will be more of a consumer or enterprise product and mark >> we will be testing it out with surgeons and medical personnel. eventually, it is hard to predict. if you succeed, i think that many many people will be wearing it in many situations. >> if you could grade it, how successful has it been? >> i think it needs another iteration or two. that is what we are learning as we are trying it out with people. we are refining it. >> are our brains ready for this kind of technology or will they ever be ready? >> i think that what we are seeing is that more and more people are working in this context at almost the same time.
whether it is good or bad -- there are advantages and disadvantages. the immediacy of being able to take a picture with a wink is quite amazing. i feel that they more we can unify the digital and physical world, the more exciting it will be. >> i want to talk to you about how you became a guy who was wearing google glass who helped invent google glass. you were born in germany. tell me about your parents, how you grew up? >> i have no clue how i got to where i am. i had a very happy family. my brother and sister got the majority of attention from my parents. i was youngest. i wasn't really planned. >> how did that make you feel? >> the result was that i ended up spending a lot of time in my own. i played alone a lot and i made my own rules. so for example, when i was in the seventh grade, i made myself a challenge to never ever do homework again. so instead of doing it, i would copy from my fellow students and i made it all the way through high school diplomas.
there was a challenge missing. i learned to be skeptical towards any sort of fixed set of rules. >> when did you learn how to code? >> when i was 14 or 13, i saved all of my money to buy a programmable calculator. and i would sit there all afternoon. and punch in little digits and work on little programs. >> even though you did not do your homework, you racked up quite a few degrees for a guy who is trying to disrupt education. you have a degree, a master's degree, and a phd. >> i got into college because for the first time in my life i felt empowered to make my own decisions. >> you are considered a godfather of artificial intelligence. i wonder, how did you gravitate towards that? >> there are so many shades of truth in real life that fascinated me. i studied philosophy for a while, i studied medicine for a while. i wanted to get to what made feelings. to me, artificial intelligence was the best place to be. you could make intelligent things and understand them.
>> what did you experiment with? >> crazy things. at one point, i got a rubik's cube and i wanted to solve it. and then that i worked a lot on machine learning. later in my life, i started working to give tours to kids into museums. stuff like that. >> google has been interested in artificial intelligence for a long time. why do you think all of these companies? >> it is the thing to do. we are at because of making computers much smarter than people. there is enormous economic benefit. just imagine that you could take a white-collar worker a thousand times more effective. it would transform society.
that is what artificial intelligence is, it is making machines really smart. taking what we do as the best and augmenting it. >> will machines replace people? >> i think they are in so many ways. >> is this a good thing? >> we continue to live longer, safer, better. >> if machines can do everything for us, in the future, what can we do? >> we have to find more sophisticated jobs or we have to work less. we have to engage and have a joint life. produce children. that is very human. i do not think that will be replaced by machines. >> do you want to live in a world where machines do everything, including think better than us? >> i already live in a world where machines think better than me. ? ♪
at the point when it comes to providing -- writing computer software, i am completely out of date. i would not be able to survive a google software engineer interview. >> if google would not hire you, who are they hiring? >> they have a fantastic number of applicants. over 2 million people are applying. they can pick and choose the very best. >> is this part of what inspired udacity? >> what inspired udacity is my history of learning. i want to learn by doing. i want to learn how to build a self driving car so i built one. i don't go to school to hear a professor talk about it. >> peter teal is encouraging people not to go to school at all. to start companies instead. >> i am not advising anyone to skip college. we think of learning as a lifelong project that we do. we have companies like google and facebook and many others sending instructors to us. >> all of the classes are online. >> everything is online. >> how much do they cost? >> they are free. you can go to each class and take it for free.
if you care about a mentor and feedback and the certificate, you pay 150 bucks a month. we are launching a nano degree. >> will apple, google hire me? >> at&t has already earmarked jobs specifically for this purpose. this is from leading tech companies in silicon valley. >> how did they feel about online education in general? >> since they started working with universities, fewer people are angry at me. and i understand changing the cost structure of education does ruffle feathers. you have to transform this. we need to make the university system affect people's needs. >> what is your vision for higher education?
20 years from now, will a degree from stanford and harvard be something coveted? >> i think the great people in the world will still carry the great credentials. hopefully, if you make it, which i hope, udacity. >> why leave a great job at google to focus on one of the hardest problems in the world? that is, education. >> to me, the mission of the being able to educate is the biggest thing i can imagine. if i ask myself, how did we fundamentally change the planet, empowering people is fundamental. there should be a constitutional amendment saying that everybody has a full education. >> how do you think you can change the world if you change education? >> i think if education is democratize, there will be fewer wars. less conflict. >> if you succeed, are you saying that we would not be in
iraq or there would not be conflict in ukraine? >> at the core i believe that , most people want the same thing. they want stability. they want safety. they want to obtain their potential. that is cut off if you cannot participate. you cannot play. >> something else that you think is broken is transportation. tell me about the self driving car. how did that start? >> when i was 18, i lost a neighbor and the neighbor was driving with a friend. the friend was driving his dad's new car and made a mistake on ice. i always felt this kind of notion of having 18-year-olds drive crazy cars or lose about a million people on this planet every year due to traffic evidence -- accidents. that was wrong. we have the technology to do it. >> how did you invent the car? >> first of all, i didn't invent the car, i had a fantastic team of people.
it started out with a fantastic challenge that the u.s. government defined. the darpa challenge. they said that whoever could build a car that could drive itself from los angeles to las vegas. they would win one million bucks. about a handful of students and you build a car that would drive itself. >> and you did. >> we happen to be slightly faster than everybody else which , gave us the first prize. >> i rode in the self driving car about four years ago. >> i remember. >> how far has it come since then? >> it drives better than me. if you were to drive with me, then you would beg me for the car to take over because it keeps the lane much better, it breaks more gently. >> would you drive in a self
driving car with your family across the country? >> definitely. i've taken my family up many times. of course, i am behind the wheel as a safety mechanism. >> have you ever had any issues? any problems? >> of course. we had many problems. >> like what? >> in the early days, we had no experience in the rain. the first thing we had this water splashing up, it looked like phantom cars popping up left and right, and all of a sudden it goes into braking mode. now, you can drive about 100,000 miles. >> there is a classic dilemma that philosophers debate called the trolley problem. if the car is on track and is it about to hit five people, should it be programmed to veer off the road and kill the driver or stay the course? >> right now, we program it to never get in a situation where it could kill five people. if it does get in a situation mike that, it will go for the smaller thing.
>> what does that mean? >> if there are two things to hit, it would hit the smaller thing. the car would not know that there are five people in the other car. it thinks of the environment as moving objects are to be avoided. we have situations where i was leading the team and the car had to face the couch and it was hard for it to drive around. now we have programmed the right evasion behavior in. >> what if it is not a couch, if it is a human being. doesn't know the difference between things and people? >> it knows about pedestrians, cars. it knows different categories. >> now, there is a different iteration of the car that you and i drove in which is a car that does not even have the steering wheel. how is that car doing? >> this is the most audacious step forward and this was traded -- created after sergey brin took over google x. and the idea here is that we have a car that drives in the city and provides transportation services, like a taxi without a driver.
it is making enormous progress. i hope in the next two years you will see this. >> to what extent was that car a pivot from your car? >> it was a pivot. i was more interested in highway driving. 86% of transportation takes place on highways. but it turns out there are many car companies working on the same topic. we are taking the audacious year -- view by saying that if you can solve inner-city driving you can solve so much of transportation. you can possibly even with ownership, i think it is a great vision. >> will we see self driving cars on the road? on a grand scale? >> i think it will happen fast. i think within 15 years you can see cities full of self driving cars where transportation is really on demand. you don't have to own a car anymore. >> i want to talk about when larry page met you because he
actually came. to the darpa challenge. >> he came. for me, he is one of the rare people that inspires me. >> how did they get you to come to google? >> i was at the point where i really wanted to explore what it means to work in silicon valley. so i started a team that -- at stanford that basically built a street technology. he stopped by and said, hey, join google. >> at what point did larry and sergei said, hey, we also want to do self driving cars. and you know something about that. >> larry said, it is time to do something courageous. that is really out there, a moonshot. he had to convince me. he said, build a car that can drive itself safer than humans. i said that it is hard. he said well, give it a try. don't blame me if i screw it up. ?
>> you helped found google x, the moonshot factory. how did that come about? >> i drank the kool-aid. i was at the point where i waved away all be skepticism and said just do it and see what happens. it turns out that the leadership, they are kind of the same personality. they said, absolutely yes. i came up with this name, google x. they came up with this project. we got our very first prototype. >> it was a backpack. >> then we strapped cellphones to my glasses and my nose would get crushed. it took a whole bunch of iterations to make it something you can actually wear a normal life. >> some of the other projects, the effort to connect the world through balloons that are in the atmosphere.
>> that is another one of these crazy moonshots that you have to be a believer to even attempt it. this idea came up that they could actually launch balloons. the downside of this, they are exposed to wind. >> what is the potential? >> the internet is up in the air and they have the balloons over us at a fairy low cost that provide unprecedented bandwidth and coverage to places they would never get coverage today like the center of africa. or the ocean. the idea is to ring the internet everywhere. this is to make a level playing field. >> facebook is trying to connect the world in different ways. who wins, google or facebook? >> i would never comment on that. [laughter] >> what about the medical contact lenses? >> it turns out, contact lenses, they are big enough to hold an array for receiving energy, putting the sensor on.
it is very feasible. we are building google x contact lenses that can measure your glucose level. >> what about trying to -- >> this did not come from google x. it is another audacious moonshot. there are no people around that lived for 200 years and we don't understand why. there is actually very little research done as compared to curing cancer. i think it is a perfectly fine proposition to say, let's give it a try. if google succeeds in finding a remedy for old age dying. i think that it is fantastic for the world. and they will make a dime or two as well. >> what kind of things do you explore? >> there is a lot of genetic information that is interesting. we know, for example that our cells have some kind of counter built-in. also know that when we produce new sales -- cells that these counters get reset.
a lot of potential to think about what is the information that manifests housing. >> you think we will see this in our lives? >> yes, i believe we will. >> what is the brainstorming session inside google x like? >> every time i am around the founders, i feel dumb. you have to have thick skin. >> google x sounds fun but how does it make sense as a business? if these businesses might not return capital for many years. >> first of all, google x had its first capital event by the contact lens to medical device companies. but, more so, just imagine that you could solve the problem of transportation. you free up all be time and build the true self driving a car. that is as valuable as google.
the amount of money invested into this, especially small. the amount of is like a drop in the bucket if it succeeds, it could be as big as google. i'm surprised that others are not taking the same bets. >> how deep does larry's support for google x go? >> it is just beginning. this is in the founder's dna. the crazy innovators. >> silicon valley is accused of being too arrogant. do you think there's is too much arrogance? >> there is arrogance. there is arrogance with me. it is our strength and our weakness. without it, we could not be innovative. >> what do you want to be? >> to be a husband and father more than anything else. >> you must be the coolest dad. >> i want to empower people. i care about doing something i've never done before. that is the drug in my life. i want to do it in a way that advances humanity and brings people forward. >> sebastian thrun, thank you for joining us on this edition of "studio 1.0." so great to have you here. ♪
>> from pier 3 in san francisco, welcome to "best of west," where we focus on technology and the future of business. i'm emily chang. every weekend we'll bring you the "best of west," the top interviews with the power players in global technology and media companies that are reshaping our world. to our lead. about a month after announcing new iphones, apple had a new announcement, including new ipads. besides that, apple announced apple pay will start on monday and showed off ios 8 and mac operating system